HOUSE OF PRAYER: Pastor says parents will comply with judge's order

House of Prayer members will comply with a judge's order to visit their children, get counseling and take parenting classes, the Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. said.

But the parents and their pastor said they still don't think the state should tell them how to raise their children.

"The only thing we're going to do is obey them literally --- go through the motions --- because all of this is a farce," Allen said. When they go to class, the parents should "take them some cotton along and put it in their ears," the pastor said.

Judge Peggy H. Walker ordered David and Carla Wilson and Ricky and Yolonda Wilson to attend parenting classes to learn new ways to discipline children, to get family counseling and to visit their children for at least four hours a month.

David Wilson took issue with the judge's instructions. "We'll take the visitation," he told her, "but only if they bring her to our house." He also said he and his wife don't need parenting class because the Bible already instructs them in disciplining children.

The children were taken into state custody a year ago after an investigation into alleged child abuse at the northwest Atlanta church. The parents have refused to visit them, saying it would be too painful for the children if they couldn't come home.

David and Ricky Wilson are brothers. David and Carla Wilson's 8-year-old daughter is in foster care with an aunt who left the House of Prayer and has been an outspoken critic of the way its members, at the direction of their pastor, discipline children. Ricky and Yolanda Wilson's 9-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son are in foster care in separate homes outside metro Atlanta.

The children want to come home, Walker said. "Help them come home," she told Ricky and Yolonda Wilson. "Do what you need to do to help them."

Walker said her goal is to reunite the families, but the outcome will depend on how the parents respond to her order. Walker on Monday granted the state's request to keep the three children in custody for up to another year.

The Wilsons' children are among eight from the House of Prayer that the state is seeking to keep longer in foster care. David and Sharon Duncan, the parents of five of the children in foster care, are scheduled to appear before Walker in Fulton County Juvenile Court this morning.

On Monday, Ted Hall, the lawyer representing the Division of Family and Children Services, argued that it's in the best interest of the children to stay in the state's custody because so far the parents have refused to work with DFCS on any plan that would reunite the families.